The Nave

The Nave never appears to have been aisled
The Nave is the area where the congregation sit during the service.
The north wall appears to be of the 13th century.
It was re-roofed and repaired following the collapse of the spire in 1621.
The three bay Nave has lancet windows to the north and a blocked north door all with hood moulds and two light windows to the south with sex(cinque) foiled circles to heads and hood moulds.
A blocked south door is possibly of 13th century origin, has large off set buttress to the front. Similar buttresses to the east and west ends and chamfered plinth to the south side only; it has a battlemented parapet.
The Nave has a four bay arch with braced tie beam roof supported by wall posts on carved head corbels, except for the middle corbel on the south side which is larger and is inscribed SRB/1621.
There is decorative carving to wall plate and cusping to the principles.
The south wall has 19th century windows.

Around 1772 Charles Lord Viscount Maynard repaired the chancel and although no mention is made of the nave in the inscription, the date is about right for the box pews to have been installed, and this could have been the time the chancel screen was removed and bits of it re-used to form the base of a west gallery. The niche was also closed off and a dated piece of Banastre’s old panelling pushed into it - perhaps, as it would be a pity to throw it out. The ‘Manor Pew’ is located on the north side and this gives every sign of having been built and used as such, it had a door with hinges and an inside catch to secure it, but in recent times the door has been fixed shut The pew was also numbered in sequence with all the others. The conjecture therefore is that the pulpit post-dates the pews, and a clue to it’s arrival may be found in the local legend, as old people in Calverton maintain to this day, that the Passenham pulpit was taken from Calverton Church

The new look of the Nave at Passenham when it had been reassembled and decorated should, it is thought, commend itself as an improvement on the old. Instead of continuing right up to the chancel arch the pews are now replaced to leave an open area in front of each row, with a stone paved floor.

Near the eastern end of the north wall was found a small piscine of very simple form, the sides and top being made of three rectangular pieces of half dressed stone, with no carving or ornamentation to assist with it’s dating. This feature was retained when the walls were redecorated.

It’s presence indicates the existence at one time of an alter in this corner of the Nave; there is however no piscine in the south east corner, which surely would have existed if the ‘tunnel’ had been a squint, nor is there anything to suggest that there was ever a similar squint on the north side.

Running along the north wall, at a height of about six feet, is a single course of dressed stones with rubble above and below - about three inches thick and completely smooth on it’s upper and lower surfaces. The front edge has been knocked off with a chisel to make the course flush with the rest of the wall, but originally it must have protruded, probable as a carved strip along the wall. Below the windows, however, but not coinciding with them, the course is broken, suggesting that when it was constructed the window openings were lower and of a different width. The present north windows are apparently early English lancets of the mid 13th century date, so this stone course, and possibly the piscine, may belong to an earlier structure - perhaps the church granted by Henry 1 (1100 - 1135) to his new founded Abbey of Cirencester.

Putlog Hole:-?
Hole in the North wall of
the nave January 1968
About two feet lower on this wall a series of holes approximately six inches by six inches square were discovered, spaced roughly eight feet apart, three each side of the blocked up north door. (one similar was found at the east end of the south wall, but it was not possible to look for others on this side because of the rendering). These were blocked up with mortar and pieces of tile which, when removed, showed the holes traversing the full thickness of the wall to the outside, where again they were closed in simple fashion. Considerable controversy has raged over the significance of these holes, the chief contender being the theory that, at an early date, there was a row of Monks cells with holes through which food could be passed to the inmates. This would further infer that the Monks were of an enclosed order, and therefore probably Carthusians who came to England about 1100. But, as previously noted, Passenham was connected shortly after this with Cirencester which was of the order of Augustinian Canons. The suggestion in a letter, of Mr Clive Rouse that these might be putlog holes instigated a further search of the exterior (the inner walls being obscured with cladding), where another similar hole, above one of the others, at a height of about ten feet, settled the matter without much doubt in favour of this solution. (Putlog holes were used to insert thick beams to support scaffolding when building or repairing a church. It is intended that one of these holes will be fitted with a glass at both it’s ends and left exposed.

Elevation of Church walls made during internal alterations in July - August 2002

The Galleries:-

The Screen after it was moved from the chancelarch

Charities are recorded on the gallery front.

The carved screen no longer stands across the chancel arch. It has long since, before Baker’s time, been removed and placed at the rear of the nave to form the front of the gallery, close inspection of the supporting pillars shows how and where it was fixed to the chancel arch and stalls. This raises the question of where Banastre’s pulpit was placed!

(C15) (List of charities on gallery frontage behind the pews and facing the altar along the complete length of the church)

ANTHONY CARPENTER. Houses and land situate in Denshanger; (viz): VII houses near the bridge over the turnpike road, an allotment of land, situate in the West field, made on the Inclosure of Denshanger, for cottage rights, etc containing 2a 2r 0p and now constituting part of the close called JARVIS'S charity. By deed dated 16th December, 17th Charles 1st, A.D. 1642. The rent to be distributed every Monday after Mid Lent Sunday to 20 poor families resident in Denshanger and the precincts and liberties thereof. Trustees to be elected as occasion requires and in manner directed by the said deed.

DANIEL ALLEN (called JARVIS'S charity) Houses and land, situate in Denshanger: (viz): Three houses devised by will and two purchased with money arising from the Estate, and an allotment of land, situate in the said field, called West field, containing 1 la Or. Ip. By will dated 10th October: 1683. The annual rent to be given to the poor of Denshanger at large. Trustees - the Rector and churchwardens of the parish for the time being.

JOHN SWANNELL Fifty shillings a year, issuing out of a messuage and orchard, or close of pasture ground, situate in Denshanger, now the property and in the occupation of JOHN TRAVELL. By will dated 12th March, 1707. For teaching poor children of Denshanger to write and read. Trustees - the Rector, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of Denshanger for the time being.

THOMAS NICOLL A rent charge of £1 2s 8d issuing out of land in Denshanger, now the property of WILLIAM GOLBY and ROBERT WALL. By will dated 15th August, 1726. For bread, to be given every Easter Monday, to twenty-four ancient poor people of the town or village of Denshanger that constantly go to church to hear Divine Service. Trustees - The Rector, churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the parish for the tune being.

EDWARD WHITTON The interest £114 12s 3d invested in the Old South Sea Annuities amounting to £3 8s 8d per annum. By will dated 18th December. 1766. To be given in bread every January 5th to such poor persons as do not receive alms or collection from the parish. Trustees - The Rector and churchwardens of the parish for the time being.

The Gallery was installed around 1771, the West Gallery composed of Sir Robert Banastre’s former Chancel screen with fluted Ionic pillars on high bases and frieze carved with cartouches of arms. The columns were taken from the Rood Screen, which were removed as part of the changes. Those to the centre and either end upheld by kneeling cherubs, those on either side held by mermaids and mermen with winged horses trampling dragons either side.

The Fonts:-
The modern Font was donated in 1976
by A. D. A. Lawson in memory of his wife
Old font

Chancel Arch:-

The ‘Early English’ Chancel arch is a later addition. It has blocked up 13th century north and south doors. On the south east buttress here are four or five medieval scratch dials (at or below eye level). The out ends of the blocked putlog holes can be discerned with difficulty here and there.

The nave and chancel windows are probably continental, canopies of c1350.

The Pews:-

South wall of the nave after panelling removed January 1968
Nave pews North side looking West from the chancel arch January 1968

Panelled box pews, possibly carved oak. The original intention was to paint these in pastel colours, leaving them standing as before except to open up the area beneath the pulpit on the south side.

These pews and the wooden flooring upon which they were placed, give the appearance of the late 18th century.

However, when this section was removed it was apparent that the under floor joists were in an alarming state of decay from dry rot, necessitating complete removal of the pews and re-flooring to take place. With the pews and the wall panelling removed, and the floor boards lifted, further interesting features came to light.

Brick lined burial pit in the nave looking North - January 1968
Beneath the floor on the north side was a coffin shaped, brick lined burial pit six feet eight inches long and two feet six inches at ‘shoulder width’, which would therefore be capable of taking the coffin of a full size person. There was no opportunity of properly excavating this pit, but, one of the workmen apparently dug a hole at the head end to a depth of about five feet without finding any trace of a coffin or bones; he did bring up a round headed brass nail, attached to a fragment of rotted wood, behind the head of which there was a small piece of friable material or possibly leather.

Scattered loose upon the earth below the floor near to this pit were several broken bones which may have been unearthed from this grave at an earlier date.

The grave may be somewhat earlier than the 18th century, but probably not very much so because of it’s brickwork.

There is no memorial inscription in the Nave to suggest who might have been buried therein, nor is there any documentary evidence, but he/she must have been someone of importance locally. There are no Lords of the Manor buried at Passenham, so the most likely alternative is the Rector. During the 18th century three of these died and were buried at Passenham: Anthony Trye in 1711, but his place of internment is marked by a stone in the chancel; John Jenkinson in 1762 and Richard Forester in 1769.

An inscription - To the memory of the Rev. John Jenkinson is carved on the Chancel floor on the same slab as bears a brass plate saying that Anna Carpenter who died in 1611 is buried thereunder, suggesting small likelihood of Jenkinson being interred there.

Until the restoration of the Chancel there was on the north wall a monument to the Rev Richard Forester (now rehung at the east end of the Nave) which again does not state the place of burial. This tablet was erected by his brother Pulter Forester who became Rector of Passenham shortly afterwards, and was undoubtedly associated with Lord Maynard in the beautifying of the chancel in 1772.

The only other possibility, apart from these two, seems to be a certain James Brudenell who appears on the buried register in 1743, and was presumably related to Thomas Brudenell Esq. who may have been a tenant of the manor, he was so described in 1735 and 1737 when two of his children were baptised at Passenham.

Overlying the foot (east) end of this pit was a smoke blackened brick channel running from a chimney in the north wall to the underside of the central aisle, indicating the site of an early heating stove. Prior to the installation of electric heaters in recent year (the current ones being installed by the Friends of the Church in 2007), the church was ‘warmed’ by a stove on the north wall tapped into the same chimney as the older one. This was accommodated in a narrow crossing evidently made by removing one pew, and floored with stone continuous with the aisle. It would seem likely that this pew was removed in the 19th century to enable the flue from the central stove to be laid under the stone floor.

The Pulpit:-

For the years 1780-1814 Calverton was held in plurality with Passenham by John Hey D.D., who it so happens was a celebrated preacher and learned theologian. He was the first Norrisian Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, holding this position from 1780 to 1795, and was a preacher to His Majesty’s chapel at Whitehall. If there was no pulpit as Passenham who more likely to have erected this one than the good Dr. Hey, from which to ‘Crie aloud…; made from several sources, some from Calverton where possibly they had acquired a new one?

The Pulpit now occupies a new position on the north wall of this crossing, and a new Lectern stand on the south adjacent to the opened up ‘tunnel’

The pulpit before 1968
The position of the pulpit before
it was moved in 1968
Pulpit text
(see below)
Front view of pulpit new position 1968
Pulpit in it's new position 1968

The Lectern:-
The Lectern was donated in 1969 - bearing
the Lawson & Fermor-Hesketh arms
Chairs that once stood in Passenham Church

Thought to be St. Elizabeth of Hungary;
probably 16/17 century glass of German origin.